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WebSphere CTO sees 'real life challenges' for SOA in 2008

IBM WebSphere CTO Jerry Cuomo sees service-oriented architecture (SOA) moving beyond demos of "fancy architecture" to "real life challenges' in 2008. SOA is no longer at the concept stage as implementations across vertical industries proliferate and nitty-gritty issues such as policy enforcement become more important. Yet as Cuomo discusses trends for 2008 in this interview, he also sees SOA moving beyond internal enterprise applications as technologies, including REST, bring more business services out to the Web creating new business opportunities.

Read part two.

Jerry Cuomo
How do you see 2008 shaping up in terms of SOA and related technologies?
I think 2008 is going to build on what we've seen in 2007. The more SOA matures the basic block-and-tackle things won't catch the press headlines, but one thing that is really important to our customers around SOA is governance and policy. The fact of the matter is SOA is successful. I've seen it in 2007. It's happening in every industry, banking, financial, retail, government, right across the gamut it is happening. So what happens next?
Now, comes the next wave. People have sat down with their business folks and worked out a set of business driven services, more of the departments are reusing and sharing services. But as the services are being reused what is the contract with the parties that are reusing? Let's say I find a bug in my service. Can I go change it, update the version? No. Other people now have dependencies on that service. So we're getting into the real life challenges around SOA. So governance, management, policy, all of these things maybe aren't as sexy as the things we saw in the first wave of SOA, but they ultimately are more important. Are we getting down to the SOA nitty-gritty?
2008 is going to be the year of governance, policy. It's not the year that we'll show off fancy architectures. It's the year we're going to have deployments out there. It's an exciting time for SOA as it gets to the level where people are using it en masse. So we're starting to see some of the basic issues of managing a large-scale SOA. What kinds of issues?
They're not necessarily IT related issues. There are issues of how groups work together, how things are managed, the lifecycle of services, policy, security, who can touch services and when. This is an interesting time. Governance is probably the unsung theme, but it is ever more important as people take this seriously. So key products in 2008 are going to be things like registries. We have WebSphere Registry. The ESB is playing a role now as an enforcer. Right now it's just a connector, but it will become an enforcer of the governance policies. The registry is the store for the assets and the policies. It's the ESB that's going to be out there enforcing them. I think this is all coming into scope – not just in PowerPoint, but in reality, in live customer engagements. Are there other trends you see coming in the next year?
One of the other things we saw this year that is going to carry very strongly next year is notion of SOA for the Web and looking at the Web as a first class platform for service-oriented architecture. In the WebSphere world, we're taking this very seriously. The Web has become almost like the air. It's around us. It's instinctive how to use it. So extending the reach of your enterprise SOA via the Web is a very powerful concept because everyone can do it, everyone can participate in the Web. Hence everyone can access your services and capabilities if you were to make them available in a very palatable Web form. What I'm really talking about are some of the technologies that play into this: REST, RSS, Atom. What is IBM doing with REST?
When you look across our portfolio, we are REST-enabling our portfolio. Everything from MQ Series – today with the latest feature pack for MQ you can actually use a Web browser without your MQ client, which you needed before. You can take a standard Web browser and post messages to MQ. You can inspect the content of your queue manager. What is queued up there and ready to go? Again it's powerful to be able to interact with our middleware via the Web using standard Web tools. We also have the WebSphere feature pack for the WebSphere Application Server adding REST, Atom, Ajax capability. For our commerce, process and portal server, we're adding capabilities to unleash your enterprise content to the Web. What will these new capabilities mean for SOA application development?
Once it's out there, once it's unleashed and available, when you think about the principles of SOA: loose coupling and being able to take these loosely coupled components and quickly compose new applications – in the Web world, they've been called mashups – being able to take your enterprise content and quickly and agilely assemble new applications based on that freshly unleashed enterprise content. Agility is the word.
For more information
REST 'ideally suited' for SOA-style data services – Burton

WebSphere CTO champions Web SOA on Project Zero  
Is this where Project Zero fits in?
For agile assembly of new applications, we're looking for tools like Project Zero to lead that. I'm quite confident that 2008 is going to be the year of Project Zero. It will be the year we take that technology that's on and incorporate it into WebSphere, and make it a WebSphere product. And again its role is going to be in the agile view. Now that the world is exposing services, it can get in there using dynamic scripting and put together solutions, hopefully in record time to address whatever emerging business opportunities are out there. It's a perfect companion to the notion of SOA. So where are we going with REST for SOA and the Web?
REST is evolving. We're taking it very seriously. As I said before, the Web is all around us. We think in the end when you make your service architecture available with many on-ramps, especially on-ramps that are easy to interact with. There's this notion of ease around the Web because it's so well understood and things that are well understood are easy. By exposing your SOA to the Web, things will happen, things that you expect to happen will happen, but also things you don't expect to happen will happen, new business opportunities. That's why we're excited about the relationship between SOA and the Web.

In part 2 of this interview coming next week, Cuomo discusses the emergence of complex event processing in SOA. He also drills down into issues including how the ESB will play a greater role in governance and where IBM stands on the REST versus SOAP debate.

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